Two months after releasing their 10th album, Off Duty, Dynamic Duo is back again with new single “You”. Following their hit collaboration on 2017’s “Nosedive”, The Hip hop duo have teamed up once more with Exo‘s Chen to hopefully deliver another hit, though the timing of this single is relevant for at least one reason.
Coming at a time of fan upheaval following Chen’s announcement of his impending fatherhood and marriage, there has been a battle of negative and positive review-bombing on MelOn and other streaming sites. This kind of behaviour, however — even when meant with the best intentions — only further muddies the waters of public opinion, making it more difficult to get a measure of what we choose to consume.
It’s safe to acknowledge that a win would be great for Chen right now, and probably more so Chen’s supporters, and I’m sure Dynamic Duo wouldn’t be too put out if “You” was successful. Unfortunately, it isn’t going to happen this time.
There is nothing wrong with the music itself. Producer Philtre‘s beat provides levity as Chen, Gaeko and Choiza lament taking an ex for granted and ending up alone, thus reflecting the song’s Korean title. It is a decent, introspective Hip hop track, the kind of track that could soar higher on the back of an inspired and captivating MV.
“Nosedive” has a similar cadence to “You”, despite the more platonic subject matter. However, the former sounds clearer than the latter; it was also accompanied by a MV confidently presenting a simple story that matched well with the lyrics. As Karen points out in her review, its circular structure further reinforced Dynamic Duo’s affirmations about overcoming life’s struggles.
While a sweet accompaniment, “You” fails to fully capitalise on conveying the song’s feeling. The elderly feature once again, as a couple reunites after their youth. The reason for their separation is never shown, and it appears that we need to rely on the lyrics to fill in the gaps. The closest we get is when the older man looks into the camera — the fear and doubt written on his face in large letters — before he steels himself and approaches the woman. Actor Sandro Trippi nails the expression, and director Bang Jae-yeob times it so that the moment doesn’t overwhelm.
The other highlight is the slow reveal about the woman, starting with her younger self (Flaminia Cuzzoli) before showing us her in the current day (Michaela Gargiullo). Just as we are wondering if we are witnessing a time skip, or maybe an instance of time travel, we see that the shop cashier has not aged, pointing us to the understanding that the woman is holding on to the past (also shown by the photo in her wallet and her wearing the pocket watch).
However, there is little else to go on. How does she feel about not being with the man? Is she sad about the separation, angry they aren’t together, hopeful for a reunion? The reason we don’t know is that the lyrics are from a male viewpoint. An all-male collaboration may have worked in “Nosedive”, but “You” shows us how important it was for the MV to follow that blueprint as well. “You” tries to extend beyond its blueprint and doesn’t know what to do in the absence of any lyrical cues.
Instead, the MV defaults to a smiley, serene woman who patiently waits for her man to return. There is no justification for this, we the audience are just expected to accept it and hurry up and be happy for the reunited lovers. Do they really expect me to believe that Dynamic Duo are all cut up about the relationship but the woman harbours no resentment or pain at all? This treatment renders the woman two-dimensional, and to a lesser degree, it also takes away from that moment where the man expresses his fear in reapproaching her.
Some of my other issues with the MV are excusable (Cuzzoli is stiff when playing to the camera, but fares much better with a scene partner; the lollies are a pointless Macguffin), while others continue to exasperate (Why is he in her house? How long has he been stalking her to plan this elaborate plan to recreate their train date to Tuscany?)
“You” is a fine song, but not necessarily a stand-out. Where a MV could have helped boost its profile, it instead worked against both itself and the song. While it isn’t a great loss for the parties involved — including Chen — it isn’t a win, either.